The Catholic Church in France “has returned vigorously to the public scene” after decades of invisibility, according to an article in the magazine Inside the Vatican (January).
Opposition to a law on same-sex marriage and gay adoption is being led by the archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, who started a controversy when he publicly issued a prayer praising the importance of both mothers and fathers in raising children. The uproar was fanned by the newspaper Le Monde when it defended the prelate. When gay marriage obtained the approval of the Council of Ministers last fall, Vingt-Trois protested publicly to political leaders, saying that the measure would represent a radical change to the nature of the sexes and procreation.
The cardinal’s views fed into a mood of resistance against the government and led to protest marches drawing hundreds of thousands in Paris and other cities. Writer Sandro Magister notes that the protests have included Catholics and non-Catholics, including secularists, such as feminist philosopher Sylviane Agacinski. The protests may reflect changing attitudes about gay marriage and adoption, as both measures have lost support in 2012. On the day of the protests Pope Benedict XVI encouraged the French bishops to “pay close attention” to any legislation challenging the protection of marriage between men and women.
Magister concludes that “The archbishop of Paris is no longer a general with an army. The bishops are with him too. They have elected him as the president of the Episcopal conference.”
(Inside the Vatican, via delle Mura Aurelie 7c, Rome 00165, Italy)